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Archive for February, 2012

A Hair’s Breadth

Recession news stories regularly talk about billions and trillions of dollars these days, unfortunately on the wrong side of the balance sheet. Popular TV shows about science describe unimaginably small particles along with equally unimaginably large numbers of stars, galaxies, distances and possible life-bearing planets. Young earth creationists espouse a thousands-of-years history instead of billions, often with no apparent sense of just how much they're shortening the life-span of the universe by. The latter, if we take the current estimate of the age of the universe as 13.75 billion years and the creationist claim of a six thousand year old universe, means that they're claiming the universe is just 0.00004% as old as it actually is. For those who prefer fractions, that's 41,000,000. If we're talking about the age of the Earth, they're closer to correct but still wrong by several orders of magnitude. They're claiming the planet to be just 0.0001% or 110,000 its actual age.

I sometimes wonder if, just maybe, an inability to grasp the sheer length of time that geology and cosmology give evolution to work with—how much time is allowed for tiny, minuscule changes to accumulate—doesn't play a small part in biblical literalists' easy denial of evolution. This post isn't about religion or creationists, though, and they're certainly not the only ones to have a hard time grasping very big and very small numbers.

An example.

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Whosoever Believeth In Him

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Bible disclaimer: All characters and situations in this book are products of the author's imagination...

To many fundamentalist, and some not-so fundamentalist, Christians, that's the key passage of the whole Bible. In fact we could narrow it down further. According to a quick Google search I just made, the King James Bible contains 774,746 words, but the whole essence of the fundamentalist belief can be narrowed down to just 0.0009% of the whole; seven words: "whosoever believeth in him should not perish."

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I've noticed that there are a few videos that I find myself linking to quite often in comments, because they sum up quite neatly some oft-made points. So I thought I'd put them all in one place.

Okay, okay, it also makes for an easy post. I admit it; I was feeling lazy. Satisfied?

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